Thursday, May 11, 2006

Lack of Choice in Health Care

Opponents of change in health care often claim that any plan with increased government involvement would lead to a government take over of health care, resulting in decreased choice. An AMA study has shown how little choice we actually have under the current system of private health plans. The report reviewed in the May 8 issue of American Medical News (available on line to subscribers only) found that of 294 metropolitan areas all but fifteen markets in six states had two plans controlling at least 50% of the market. Even these fifteen markets weren’t much better with two plans controlling at least 40% of the market.

When one or two HMO’s or PPO’s dominate the market to this degree it takes away leverage from businesses purchasing the plans, patients, and doctors, leaving the health plans free to set their own rules. This lack of competition also contributes to the steady increase in premiums, leading to more businesses dropping coverage. From personal experience, such dominant health plans are typically much more restrictive than the government plans such as Medicare. Conservatives argue for the preservation of the current system claiming that the market provides more choice than government plans, but in reality the current system is limiting choice and consolidating decisions in large corporations who show more concern for profits than the needs of patients.


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